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GṛhasthaThe Householder in Ancient Indian Religious Culture$
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Patrick Olivelle

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190696153

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190696153.001.0001

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Gṛhasthas Don’t Belong in the Rāmā̄yaṇa

Gṛhasthas Don’t Belong in the Rāmā̄yaṇa

(p.204) 11 Gṛhasthas Don’t Belong in the Rāmā̄yaṇa

Aaron Sherraden

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the position of the gṛhastha in the Rāmāyaṇa primarily through its striking absence—the concept is not found in the text with the exception of one verse. It properly contextualizes this single reference and explore a number of other references to other “life-modes” to show where the Rāmāyaṇa sits ideologically in relation to the development of the āśrama system. Ultimately, it becomes clear that the Rāmāyaṇa has no narrative concern for a codified system of āśramas and the fluidity of the life-modes as depicted in the epic allowed the author of the Rāmāyaṇa to effectively ignore the gṛhastha, an institution we have come to accept as quintessential to the classical Hindu worldview.

Keywords:   Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, gṛhastha, āśrama system, interpolation, narrative

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